Roger Federer annihilated Andy Murray 6-0 6-1 to seal top spot in Group B at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London and send the shell-shocked home favourite crashing out of the tournament.
Murray managed only eight points in the first set as his hopes of reaching the semi-finals disappeared.
Federer led 6-0 5-0 and 30-0 on Murray’s serve and missed a simple volley that would have given him three match points for a so-called ‘double bagel’.
Murray battled back and finally won a game to huge cheers from the sell-out O2 crowd, although his respite was a brief one as Federer wrapped up victory in under an hour.
Kei Nishikori’s earlier three-set win over alternate David Ferrer ensured Federer had reached the semi-finals even before taking to court against Murray, while the Briton knew only a straight sets win would be enough for him.
Federer ended any confusion in emphatic style, handing out a fearful first-set beating to the man who he lost to in the Olympic singles final at Wimbledon in 2012.
Cracking winners at will against a demoralised Murray, the 33-year-old Swiss maestro silenced the Murray fans in the crowd with a formidable onslaught.
To his credit, the Briton was a model of grace in defeat as he accepted the thumping, which brought a swift and brutal end to his season, had been carried out by a 33-year-old playing as if in his matchless 20-something pomp.
“He played exceptionally well, that’s for sure,” said Murray, pondering the thrashing in which he was so completely outplayed that he won 24 of the 78 points contested.
“I can say I’m disappointed with my level but if I played well, he probably still would have won anyway.
“After the first few games of the match, he played exceptionally well, made very few mistakes, was hitting the ball off the middle of the racquet on serve and returns.
“I would have obviously hoped to have done a lot better than that but when he’s extremely loose like he was tonight – he was obviously (already) through in the group – he was able to maybe try some shots that he might not try in other situations.
“But everything he tried came off. He has the ability to do that.”
It was impossible not to sympathise with Murray, who reckoned he tried to give everything from the first shot to the last to provide the 18,000 capacity crowd, largely on his side, with a match to remember in a week of one-sided fare.
For the twice Grand Slam champion, though, this nearly turned into a match to remember for all the wrong reasons as the Scot found himself just two points away from the ultimate embarrassment.
“Obviously, six-love, six-love, I mean, that’s never happened to me in my career,” said Murray. “Six-love, six-one has maybe happened only once to me before, so it’s very disappointing.”
The 6-1 6-0 defeat was by Novak Djokovic in the semi-final in Miami in 2007 but, as Murray pointed out, he had been slightly injured that day.
How could he describe the experience of being steamrollered like this?
“I would say it’s ‘frustrating’. That would be the one word to describe it. There’s some matches where you might have behaved badly or felt like you hadn’t given your best effort but I was trying tonight.
“So it’s very frustrating when you’re trying to give your best,” he added.
Federer said it was an almost perfect performance, but he was not too upset at losing the penultimate game.
“Yeah, not so cool because I wouldn’t want to be in that position,” the 17-times Grand Slam champion told reporters.
“I was happy to get it done. At the end I was happy I didn’t win the second to last game to be quite honest.
“It’s uncomfortable. I don’t know. I don’t like it.”